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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Return of Warren Neil...Gregory's Aim to Win Away....Bignot on Team's Fighting Spirit (Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times)

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times on Return of Warren Neil- JG turns to an old mate
WARREN Neill has no plans for a permanent return to QPR - despite answering John Gregory's SOS call to assist him on the training ground.
The former Rangers full-back has stepped into the breach left by the suspension of Gregory's right-hand man Richard Hill and will assume coaching duties on a short-term basis.
Neill was previously manager of QPR's successful under-19 team until the club's slide into administration - and subsequent downgrading from Academy status - cost him his job.
But Neill, who works as a London taxi driver, said: "Obviously I'll be doing something different for the next few weeks, but it's just until the end of the season.
"I've known John for along time and basically I'm just helping out a friend, simple as that. If anything happens after the end of the season, I'll think about it then."
Neill's sentiments are highly reminiscent of those voiced by another of his former QPR team-mates, Alan McDonald, when he returned to assist Gary Waddock just over a year ago.
McDonald stayed on as assistant manager when Waddock landed the top job - but was sacked, ironically to make way for Hill, after Gregory took over the hotseat in September.
Hill was suspended following an investigation into the punch-up between QPR staff and the Chinese Olympic team last month and is facing an FA charge of violent conduct.
He was also questioned by police on suspicion of actual bodily harm and, although no charges have been brought against Hill, he is highly unlikely to return to his role at Loftus Road.
Rangers chairman Gianni Paladini wants Gregory to sign a new two-year contract when his initial deal runs out, but has made it clear that no such offer will be made to Hill. If Gregory has to appoint a new assistant, 44-year-old Neill - a veteran of more than 200 appearances in the blue and white hoops - could fit the bill.
The Acton-born right-back emerged through the ranks and made a real impact on the Rs' first team during their run to the FA Cup final of 1982, featuring in the replay against Tottenham.
He was also a key member of the side that lifted the Division Two title a year later, qualified for the UEFA Cup and also reached the Milk Cup final in 1986.
Moving to Portsmouth in 1988, he was briefly reunited with Gregory - taking his first step in management at Fratton Park - and spent another eight years on the south coast.
After finishing his career with Watford, Neill moved into coaching and led Rangers' under-19 side to the national championship final in 2001, only to be axed that summer.
But he was back in the dugout alongside Gregory for last Saturday's 1-1 draw against Sheffield Wednesday, a game which saw Spanish playmaker Inigo Idiakez make his debut after signing on loan from Southampton.
The 33-year-old former Derby star is available up to and including the Easter Saturday match against Coventry, but Gregory is keen to extend that arrangement, possibly even to a permanent deal.
He said: "Never in my wildest dreams did I think he would become available.
"He will certainly become a crowd favourite if he helps us to stay up this season. Kilburn Times

See Also: Kilburn Times - Gregory wants to follow the Venables formula
JOHN Gregory is aiming to draw inspiration from the Terry Venables era as QPR endeavour to improve their horrendous away record during the run-in.
Prior to last night's challenging test at Derby, Rangers had lost nine of their last 10 away games in all competitions and are on the road again this weekend when they face Leicester at the Walkers Stadium.
The Rs had a similar reputation as poor travellers under Venables 25 years ago, but underwent a dramatic transformation as a side including Gregory swept to the Division Two title the following season.
"We had a soft underbelly and lost 13 away games out of 21 in my first season here as a player," Gregory recalled.
"But the following year we won 10 times away from home, breaking the club record, because Terry Venables changed the personnel as well as the attitude.
"He added a bit more steel - I remember Steve Wicks coming in, a very solid, resolute defender - and effectively we won the league away from home.
"Rangers are expected to play an attacking style - we've often prided ourselves on trying to entertain before getting a result - but sometimes a draw is an acceptable result.
"When I was at Villa, we drew a lot of away games and it was usually looked on as a good point because we were winning at home. We need the right mentality and I've tried to bring in players who have that."
Rangers' last away win came on November 17, when Ray Jones' late goal gave them all three points at Cardiff. Kilburn Times

Bignot: this time it matters more - 13 March 2007 - Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times
SKIPPER Marcus Bignot is convinced QPR can avoid repeating their relegation disaster of 2001 - because this time the squad actually care.
Bignot, who returned from a two-month injury lay-off to captain Rangers in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday, was a member of the side that crashed into the old Division Two six years ago.
But the full-back says there is no comparison between the current squad and their 2001 counterparts - even though, like many of his team-mates, he is nearing the end of his Loftus Road contract.
"Personal issues have to go to one side in this situation and I didn't feel that was the case with the squad when I first joined QPR," said Bignot.
"No disrespect to those players, but quite a few of them were thinking about their holidays and things like that. I didn't feel they had the club at heart.
"It's totally different now. Everyone cares and feels they're fighting for the same cause, the most important thing, which is to keep this club up - that's the be-all and end-all.
"I'm sure no-one who came on Saturday could fault the effort, the commitment, or the quality of football - the fans' only grumble will be that we haven't won, we haven't turned our endeavour into three points.
"Going a goal down, we certainly showed the spirit that says we're never going to quit and that's what we'll need between now and the end of the season."

Bignot became Ian Holloway's first signing as QPR manager almost exactly six years ago - but both those arrivals came too late to save the club from the drop.
A lack of goals was a major problem for the class of 2001, who seemed overly reliant on rookie centre-forward Peter Crouch - and a similar issue haunts the current crop as well.
Rangers should have buried Wednesday under an avalanche of first-half opportunities, but eventually needed a Martin Rowlands penalty to even draw level.
Bignot admitted: "All that was missing was goals. We're at the business end of the season and that's going to be the difference in terms of what keeps us up.
"We know that and we've got to remain positive, become more ruthless and turn these performances into results. At this stage of the season, every game is massive, home or away."
And the Birmingham-born defender is determined to feature in every one of the Rs' remaining games, having been forced to sit out the previous eight with the medial ligament injury he suffered at Hull in January.
It was almost an exceedingly brief comeback for Bignot - who grimaced with pain as referee Andy Woolmer, in the process of awarding a free-kick against the Owls' Glenn Whelan, accidentally trod on his foot!
"He's got big feet, I'll give him that," observed Bignot, "and I'm sure the assessor will pull him up on that - he should have got a booking because it was deliberate and stopped us playing the free-kick early!
"Apart from that, it was great to be back and I've got to thank the gaffer for throwing me straight back in the team. I take that as a big compliment, especially with the situation we're in. Kilburn Times

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